The Greatest Gift

Mollie - Richmond, Virginia
Entered on December 9, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I am a camp counselor in the summer to “underprivileged kids.” That means the campers have been beaten, abused, or they’re extremely poor. You’re paired one-on-one with them and you have to do whatever they want. Sounds fun, huh? If only I knew I would learn more that summer than any class at school could teach me, all from a little nine-year-old girl.

Sarah was her name. Before her arrival, I was informed that she had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As I heard the news, I was a little excited. New counselors never get a difficult camper, but they thought I was up to the challenge. I wanted to show them I could do it. I thought I could rough it out for the week.

As soon as Sarah got off the bus, I could tell this week wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Let’s just say she marched to the beat of her own drum.

Anyway, after our introduction, I realized Sarah’s real personality. She was so needy, and she whined more than a dog. I lost count of how many times this little girl cried. But she would cry over what I thought little things. She told me countless times she hated me. I heard it so much that I was starting to believe it. This little girl, who I met just a few days ago, hated my guts.

The last night there, we had a service where the counselors wrote down something they liked about their camper and vise versa. I expected Sarah’s to say she hated me. However, her note simply read, “Mollie you were the best counselor. I’m going to miss you very, very much.” I was speechless. As we were walking up the hill to say goodnight to our campers for the last time, Sarah grabbed my hand and said, “Mollie? I’m going to miss you.” And then she started to cry. I held this little girl in my arms for over an hour. We sat and talked about her home life, and it’s awful. It’s no wonder this girl acts the way she does. The environment is not healthy for her, and it’s definitely worn her out. She cried to me saying she wanted to live with me and she didn’t want to go home. That night I had to do the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I broke a nine year-old’s heart because she couldn’t leave her home for mine. I had to tell her she had to go back to that hellhole she called home. This child was a gift, and it was devastating to see that her parents couldn’t see that. I just hope I told her enough times that she believed it.

I never thought in a million years that this camp would change my life, but it did. I believe that this little girl is a gift and that all those campers shouldn’t be taken for granted.